Canada introduces horrifying retroactive hate speech law that punishes past speech and imprisons people deemed “likely” to commit a hate crime
05/06/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

Canada is veering dangerously close to the type of complete control over people’s thoughts and speech seen in places like North Korea with a new bill that aims to censor people on the pretense of protecting others from “hate speech” – and that’s not even the most daunting part of it. What’s even more horrifying is the fact that it is retroactive, which means that the things that people have said in the past can now be weaponized against them.

The bill, known as the Online Harms Bill C-63, aims to combat online abuse, but it hides its most concerning components behind more reasonable measures, such as requiring social media platforms to take down posts that sexualize children within 24 hours.

It contains seven categories of content deemed harmful that providers must remove from their websites, including bullying children and encouraging people to harm themselves. It will also ban deep fakes. However, it is the hate speech aspects of it that are causing the most concern.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said that his party is opposed to Prime Minister “Justin Trudeau’s woke authoritarian agenda” that will likely be used for censoring political speech.

He said: "What does Justin Trudeau mean when he says the words 'hate speech'? He means the speech he hates. You can assume he will ban all of that."

Historian Dr. Muriel Blaive explained why the bill is so scary: “The Canadian law proposal is outright mad. It is retroactive, which goes against all our Western legal tradition, according to which you can be punished only if you infringed a law that was valid at the time when you committed a crime.”

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It actually gets even worse; there is a clause in the bill stating that if courts think you are likely to commit a hate crime or disseminate “hate propaganda” – which is not defined by the bill and therefore could easily be used to target those who go against government narratives – they can place you under house arrest and restrict your communications.

That’s right: they can restrict your movement and arrest you if they even think you might post something they won’t like.

Canadian MP sheds light on the bill's most controversial points

One Canadian shared on X that his wife wrote to every MP in the country about the bill. The sole MP to respond was Rachel Thomas of Lethbridge, who provided valuable insight into this upsetting matter.

She made no attempt to hide her disdain for the bill, noting: “While the federal government has touted this bill as an initiative to protect children, it does little to accomplish this noble cause, and a great deal to inhibit freedom of speech.”

She also pointed out that the bill creates a new hate crime offense that renders any offense under the criminal code indictable and punishable by life in prison if it is deemed to be motivated by hatred. It also raises the punishment for advocating genocide from five years to life imprisonment and increases the punishment for willful promotion of antisemitism or hatred and public incitement of hatred from up to two years to as long as five years.

It also gives citizens the power to file complaints anonymously with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against people they believe are posting hate speech; such individuals could face takedown orders and fines of as much as $70,000 if they are found guilty. Those who file the complaints will have their identities shielded.

She vowed to “bring forward changes to the Criminal Code that will actually protect children without infringing on free speech.

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